I am thrilled today to welcome Frank Hayes
to Escape With Dollycas!
The new Sheriff Virgil Dalton Mystery was released October 6!
It goes without saying but tastes in literature run the gamut. As a writer I have to take this into account. It informs my writing, not in the sense that I am writing for a specific audience but that I have to decide what I am comfortable with in terms of current appetites.
I am aware that zombies, vampires and other representatives of the un-dead are high on the list of what attracts an audience. Combine them with myriad explosions and conflagrations, against an apocalyptic landscape and you are on the road to a sure fire winner. This is fertile ground for many writers. I am not in their number. This on my part is probably not a wise commercial decision.
As long as I am going down this road I might as well also state that I am not a huge fan of the anti-hero as the protagonist. Again I am well aware that there are many who relish this as either writers or readers. When I read I am looking for someone to root for, someone who has a spark of what is best in a human being. I am not looking for perfection. They can be heavily flawed. These characters intrigue me as a reader and more so as a writer.
For the most part I like to like the characters that people my stories. In my latest effort after I sent it to my editor he called after reading the first couple of chapters. “You didn’t kill Jimmy did you? He is my favorite character.” It is good to have favorites in novels because it means that on some level a connection has been made with the reader. Sometimes the positive is hard to find. I remember years ago seeing a movie called White Heat with a friend. It starred Jimmy Cagney as a sociopathic killer. The body count was high, his psychopathic behavior off the charts, but throughout the film he and his mother were always close. The movie ends with him standing on top of a huge gas tank totally engulfed in flame. His last words as the world blows up underneath him are,” Look Ma, I’m on top of the world.” – pretty hard to find the positive in his character. But when the movie ended, my friend turned to me and said,” Well at least he loved his mother.” He had found the positive in a madman. I hope it is not as difficult for my readers to find the positive in the characters in Death on the High Lonesome.
About Frank Hayes
Frank has spent much of his life as an English teacher with a long a successful career introducing inner city students to the power of language. For over thirty years he taught grades six through twelve. Beyond the regular curriculum, Frank taught Mass Media, Film, Debate and Creative Writing. Outside the formal education system, Frank has worked with the Fresh Air Fund and various non-profit groups for over fifteen years. He has been involved with outdoor education, teaching wilderness survival, orienteering, pond studies, and group challenge courses. He’s also directed summer camps and programs specializing in courses for brain injured children and adults.
Frank has lived most of his life on a small farm in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife of over fifty years, Fran. Together they have raised eight children and now have a large extended family. Over the years Frank’s love of nature and animals has brought a menagerie to their small farm. While they specialized in breeding AKC registered English Springer Spaniels, they have also raised horses, cows, cats, chickens, pigs, goats and more.
Frank’s first novel Death at the Black Bull was published under the Berkeley imprint by Penguin Random House in the fall of 2014. The sequel, Death on the High Lonesome, was published October 6, 2015.
Find out more about Frank Hayes and his books on his webpage here.
Death on the High Lonesome
(A Sheriff Virgil Dalton Mystery)
2nd Book in Series
Setting – Unnamed Southwest state
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (October 6, 2015)
Published by Penguin Random House LLC
Cover Design by Jason Gill
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
The author of Death at the Black Bull returns to the Southwestern town of Hayward where the onset of winter ushers in a new mystery for Sheriff Virgil Dalton…
Virgil knows that his sleepy hometown is starting to reflect the times, in good ways and bad. It still comes as a shock when his deputy is almost killed by the body of a woman falling from the highway overpass onto his car. A woman who had been fleeing for her life…
Then longtime resident Velma Thompson is found dead on her porch—her husband missing. To search for the man, Virgil saddles up and heads to the High Lonesome, the rugged mountains above their ranch. And on a wind-swept mesa, he’ll find the first clues that point to a killer whose body count has only just begun…
Last year I read and reviewed Frank Hayes first novel, Death at the Black Bull. I absolutely loved it so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Death at the High Lonesome. Again the author drew me right in and held on tight. The story picks up not far from where we left things at the Black Bull. This time the little town of Hayward is rocked when a deputy is almost killed and Velma Thompson, is found dead. Then we learn Velma’s husband had left his ranch on horseback a few days ago and hasn’t returned. Virgil has his hands full but knows he need to start searching the High Lonesome for Charlie Thompson. He may also find something to point him in the direction of Velma’s killer.
The location of Haywood is a bit of a mystery. We know it is a southwestern state. I thought is was in New Mexico while reading the first book but now I am leaning toward Arizona. No matter exactly where it is on the map Frank Hayes brings it to life in our minds. I am so impressed with his storytelling.
I really like Virgil Dalton. He is half Native American and in addition to being the Sheriff of Hayward he is also a rancher and a lawyer. He also has a huge heart. Hayes has surrounded him with a fantastic cast of characters. They are complex and have great depth and are so real and likable.
The story itself is also very complex, twining together the new mystery but still showing us the effects of the one in the previous story. The whole thing plays out at a pretty good clip. It was extremely hard to put this book down for things like meals and sleep. I am still astonished that this is just Hayes second book. His writing reminds me of the Tony Hillerman stories I used to read and devour before I discovered cozies. I love the western feel and the camaraderie of the characters.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”